Blesok no. 36, May-June, 2004
Theatre Play


Trip to Paramaribo
– a global farce –
Translated by: Irena Tanevska

Tomislav Osmanli



Characters


THE MAN, Kiril, a retired railroad worker around 70 years of age, Meto’s father
THE WOMAN, a teacher, of similar age
THE YOUNG MAN, Gordan, 22 years

MAJA, of same age as Gordan
OUR FELLOW COUNTRYMAN, Meto, coeval with Maja and Gordan
THE MAN IN BLACK, an American, 45 years
THE OFFICER, lieutenant Ellsinore, an American, a little bit younger
KEMAL, an officer of the Ottoman Empire army, later on Pasha Ataturk (1881-1938) a revolutionary, reformer and a statesman /and at the same time
COLONEL ELLSINORE, the lieutenant’s father
PAM, an American, a tourist/ at the same time ZSA ZSA, Kemal’s lover and
Zsa Zsa Gabor, an actress
ROSE, an American, a mother/at the same time THE WOMAN IN BLACK, our fellow countrywoman, a common woman
THE LITTLE GIRL, her daughter, a five-year old child

MILADINOV, Konstantin, (1830-1862) a teacher, a reformer and a poet
ZORBA, a character from a novel by Nikos Katantzakis
FAT JOE, a rapper from New York
FRANK SINATRA, a legend

LEATHER COAT 1, Udba, ex-Yugoslav State Security Service
LEATHER COAT 2, Udba, ex-Yugoslav State Security Service
AMERICAN SOLDIERS, 1, 2, 3




1. Maribor, Paramaribo


    Waiting room at the Skopje railroad station. Hot summer night of the summer year of 2001.
    An elderly woman is napping. She is wearing an out-fashioned summer dress and has an old hat on her head. A small, shabby suitcase is placed beside her.
    There is a middle-aged man, holding a net bag with two bottles. He is looking at the platform, walking and sighing nervously.
    A young man rushes in.

THE YOUNG MAN:
(Out of breath, asking the man): Am I late?

    The latter is turning his head to the other side. The woman is lifting up her head towards the Young Man for a second and then dropping it once again, to continue with her nap.


THE YOUNG MAN:
(Now asking the Woman):
Excuse me, has the train…  

The woman gives him a head to toe look.

THE WOMAN:
It’s late.

THE YOUNG MAN:
Late? I’m asking about…

THE MAN:
(He cannot bear not making a comment) They’re all late.

THE YOUNG MAN:
It’s impossible!

THE MAN:
Stop playing a fool. Don’t you know what is going on here? Maybe they’ve started to shoot at the train. Maybe they’ve set a bomb under the train. And maybe there’s a delay, as usual.

THE YOUNG MAN:
I’m asking, you know, about the train to…

THE MAN:
And what about me, ah? You think I’ve been waiting for a coach at the railroad station. (Lifting the bag with the bottles and easing the tone of his voice): Never mind, kid. Would you care for a sip of brandy? It’s delicious, home made brandy.

THE YOUNG MAN:
Thank you, I don’t drink.

THE MAN:
How wrong. You young people don’t ever drink these days – you only use drugs.

THE YOUNG MAN:
Excuse me?

THE MAN:
Be an alcoholic not a drug addict. (The Young Man is looking at him in wonder) It’s a sort of “Better fight than sign a pact”. Mind you, the brandy’s for sale only.

The man turns his head to the other side, as if having no interest in further conversation, starts smoking a cheap cigarette…

THE WOMAN:
Where are you traveling to young man?

THE YOUNG MAN:
Me? Far away…

THE MAN:
Sure you travel far away when you want to run away. (Making clouds of smoke). You run away, all of you. There won’t be a single man left in the country to defend it.

THE YOUNG MAN:
(Pretending not to hear, addressing the woman): Where are you traveling, if I may ask?

    The man answers instead.

THE MAN:
To the border. I’m going to visit my son. He’s been mobilized there. He’s been watching the border. If I manage to sell the brandy, I’ll have some money to give him. If not, he’ll share it with his comrades. And what about you; where are you headed for?

THE YOUNG MAN:
I’m traveling, Sir. I’m going to Paramaribo.

THE MAN:
To Maribor? Have you got relatives there or maybe some Slovenian girl you dated during summer holiday?

THE YOUNG MAN:
It’s not Maribor …

THE MAN:
(Not listening to him): So, now you’ve been spreading brotherhood and unity on a sexual basis…

THE YOUNG MAN:
Paramaribo, Sir. Paramaribo is the place. Paramaribo isn’t here.

THE WOMAN:
(Talking to the Man): Slovenians are fond of us now.

THE MAN:
They’re indeed. They suffer, so to say, from Yugo-nostalgia. Now when they’re alone. And what about before, when we were together? They used to be against all other…

THE WOMAN:
I wouldn’t say so. I’ve always admired them. They’re civilized people, so organized and well mannered… I’ve been to Slovenia a couple of times and have always got the same impression.

THE MAN:
(Without listening to her) They wanted independence? They’ve got it now. They wanted to be in Europe? They’ve got it as well! You don’t even buy newspapers alone, not to mention going to Europe. The hell with them – those stablemen!

THE WOMAN:
We speak like that for our comfort only…

THE YOUNG MAN:
We are always ready to blame others when we alone aren’t doing fine.

THE MAN:
We’re fighters buddy. We’ve been fighting all our lives. It’s not our fault we have so many enemies. All those foreigners are against our country.

THE YOUNG MAN:
So, you want to say all of us here stand for our country.

THE MAN:
It’s not the point now. Now is the time to defend the country and the future of the generations. (Taking a look at him) But, not all of us are ready to do so. Some of us are running away. Running away to Europe and Maribor. They’d rather be stablemen than fight for their country.

THE WOMAN:
Excuse me young man; I wonder why you’re traveling to that place. What was the name…?

THE YOUNG MAN:
Paramaribo?

THE WOMAN:
That place is totally unknown, if I’m not wrong.

THE YOUNG MAN:
It’s on the Caribbean islands. On another continent, as if on another planet…

THE MAN:
You’ll become even Martians, only to avoid being here.

THE WOMAN:
What would you do there? Young people usually go to the developed countries…

THE YOUNG MAN:
At first, I wanted to go to America.

THE MAN:
It’ll befit you all right!

THE YOUNG MAN:
Then I changed the plan. The idea still fancies me, though.

THE MAN:
How come no one wants to go to Russia? A country of science and technique. And yet, everybody wants to go to America and America only! It’s been so for generations. We’ve been going abroad not to seek for knowledge but to be migrant workers instead. That’s why we haven’t got anywhere. Only Miladinov went to Russia and that’s all.

THE YOUNG MAN:
Two of them.

THE MAN:
What?

THE YOUNG MAN:
Dimitria and Konstantin Miladinov.

THE MAN:
I meant Konstantin. He wrote that poem of ours – “Longing for the South”. He wanted to come back here. I bet Dimitria wanted to run away, just like you. (He is bursting out laughing, which makes him start coughing).

THE WOMAN:
Don’t pay attention to him. I’m curious, young man. America you said…

THE MAN:
It’s me who said America!

THE YOUNG MAN:
I’ve become fond of it watching movies and listening to CDs. I’ve always wanted to stroll around New York at night.

THE WOMAN:
Just like the song…

THE YOUNG MAN:
Beg your pardon?

THE WOMAN:
I meant “Strangers in the night”. It was popular in my time. While listening to that song we used to dream of walking along New York skyscrapers… This picture comes to me again and again… Long black limousines and yellow cabs speeding along the streets, steam arising from the underground manholes, neon signs shining on the wet asphalt and a sound of saxophone coming from somewhere around. Someone nearby is soulfully playing jazz …

THE YOUNG MAN:
(Telling to himself) Rap. East coast hip-hop.

THE WOMAN:
… And you, you’re watching, dazzled by the glittering lights. You’re bathing in light. The neon is playing on your face and the city is sparkling all around you. You’re walking along Broadway and all of sudden you hear someone calling your name. (Turning towards the Young Man) What did you say was your name young man?

THE YOUNG MAN:
Gordan.

THE WOMAN:
Well, Gordan! He’s calling you and you’re turning around. But you don’t believe your eyes. There he is, standing right behind you with a cigarette in his hand, smiling nonchalantly, cool…

THE MAN:
Who?

THE WOMAN:
(Ignoring him, turning to Gordan) Frank Sinatra.

THE YOUNG MAN:
Fat Joe. The Gangster. So they call him. He’s my favorite rapper. He’s my greatest idol now. His music is furious. Sinatra’s been dead for years.

THE WOMAN:
I’m not quite sure young man; I’m not quite sure. Anyway, he’s standing in the steamy fog and the evaporating pavement of the shining street and while you’re still in shock he is offering to buy you a drink in the bar right behind the corner… (Turning to the Young man) Right?

THE YOUNG MAN:
Maybe. How’d you know?

THE WOMAN:
Experience young man. It’s been my generation’s dream. I’m a teacher, the second generation after the World War II. Everybody in this country fantasize in the same way. It’s only the celebrities’ names and places that change. My generation had been dreaming about Harry James, Esther Williams and California. Next generations were doing so about the Beatles and London. Here you are, dreaming about New York and that Gangster of yours. Nothing’s new, young man.

THE MAN:
(In a better mood and smiling) Nothing new. We used to be carried away by the American gangsters, just the same. Not only me but everyone else in my neighborhood… as if being in Chicago at that time, you know, Elliot Ness and the prohibition… Hey, kiddo, sure you don’t want some brandy? Have some; you’ll be sorry.

THE YOUNG MAN:
(In a sharp tone) I won’t.

THE MAN:
(Vengefully) And that dream of yours, to tell the truth, stinks!

THE WOMAN:
… Everything had been just the same, even before, when Paris had been the trendy city.

THE MAN:
The same as the Orient-Express train from Istanbul to London and back. A round trip. Everything’s just the same; you look just like us. There’s no escape. Everything’s just a round trip.

THE YOUNG MAN:
I don’t look like anybody. I look like myself. I even don’t look like my father. I look much more like some crazy hacker from Wyoming than like you.

THE MAN:
No kidding. Than I look like Humphrey Bogart in “African Queen”.

THE YOUNG MAN:
Look at you. You’re just like parodies from the previous century.

THE MAN:
Exactly. We used to associate with Turkish ladies, pashas, beys and revolutionaries. I myself even managed to take a cigarette from Goce Delčev’s (*) cigarette case and to sell Kemal Ataturk a new leather hat instead of his old Turkish fez. I bought it here from one of the leather artisans in Skopje. Have you heard about Goce and Kemal?

THE YOUNG MAN:
And about Tito (**), too.

THE MAN:
I don’t want to hear about him.

THE YOUNG MAN:
The Slovenians have created a special web site about him.

THE MAN:
What’ve the Slovenians created?

THE YOUNG MAN:
An Internet page.

THE MAN:
A page? Well, they’ll have to read that page alone.

THE WOMAN:
It’s all in vain young man. Nobody has fantasies anymore. Especially you. You’ve been dreaming, as this mister said, old dreams about the world. Don’t you see the world is here now? The world today turns around its hottest spots.

THE YOUNG MAN:
The world is somewhere else. Only their TV stations are here. They enjoy watching us on the News, as if we were a soap opera serial. They watch us in their living rooms, just to relax, during “breaking news”, in their back yards, while waiting for their microwave dinner to get cold. I hate being watched on CNN or Deutche Welle, as if African safari beast. I want to have my own life. I don’t want to be an extra in their news.

THE MAN:
That’s the way of the world. As in a circus. There are lion and tiger tamers on one side and spectators eating popcorns and laughing on the other.

THE WOMAN:
One shouldn’t make fun of someone else’s misery. There’ll be the devil to pay.

THE MAN:
Alas! We’ve always been the last to pay.


_______________
(*) Goce Delčev (1872-1903) – ideologue and leader of the national revolutionary movement
(**) Josip Broz-Tito (1895-1980) – Yugoslav partisan leader and statesman




2. Boston airport


    An airplane is taking off. The public-address system at the airport is announcing something. Noisy crowd everywhere. Pam and her five-year old daughter are in the waiting room. They are dressed conventionally.

    Rose enters. She is overweight. She is wearing shorts, a bizarre t-shirt, sneakers and a camera around her neck. She is looking for them in the crowd.

PAM:
Rose! Rose! Over here!

    They are hugging each other.

ROSE:
(In exaltation) Thank God! I thought you’d left, Pam. That idiotic cab driver missed the gate. I took me long to find it. (Speaking to the girl) Darling, you’re such a big girl now. Have you ever been to Disneyland? To tell you the truth, I’ve been there four times. And it won’t be the last. (Laughing) It makes me so happy going there together.

PAM:
All right, all right…

ROSE:
Hey, wait a minute; I want to take a picture of you.

PAM:
We’re late Rose. They’ve already announced the last call. Save the film for Disneyland. Come on; hurry up.

ROSE:
But, Pam darling, I’ve changed my ticket.

PAM:
What do you mean by that?

ROSE:
I thought I couldn’t catch this flight. I bought a ticket for the next one.

PAM:
You bought a ticket for the next flight? So, what are we waiting for? OK Rose, see you in LA. We’ll meet at the hotel. Our room reservations have been confirmed. Bye.

    She is taking little girl’s hand and they are speeding up.

ROSE:
Hold it.

    Pam and the little girl are turning towards her.
    She is taking photographs of them. Flashlight is on, illuminating their excited faces and posture. The p.a. system is on.

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